Archive for March, 2015

I spent Sunday making good on one of my New Years resolutions – my first (and last?) half marathon is in the bag!  And sweet Jesus, I’m glad that run is behind me…

I signed up for the Mercer Island Half at the beginning of the year and promptly started training with lots of guidance from Shane, who has run this race several times.  He loaded up my calendar with gradually-increasing distance targets and mapped out a number of courses that included plenty of elevation change to prep me for Mercer’s hills.  And I slogged away at those miles, strapping Jules into the stroller on Thursday mornings and Friday afternoons for jogs up around (and around, and around) Jefferson Park.  Saturday or Sunday mornings were devoted to long runs, where I would do portions of the race course or head down to Lake Washington for loops through Leschi or Seward Park.  I missed a few days when I came down with that cold (and then that hacking cough, and then that stomach bug), but generally managed to stay on track.  As race day drew near, I would vacillate between confidence and outright dread.  I’d do a solid 8-miler and think, “I got this!”  And then my knee would start to ache or I’d be put out of commission with another cold and I’d wonder, “What in the world were you thinking?”  I freaked out a couple of times last week, imagining myself barely hobbling to the finish with a side ache or a bum leg, crushed with the disappointment of missing my 2-hour time target.  I fretted and whined and threatened to bail.  I went to my coach for a pep talk, and his advice to me was, “Just have fun!”  Thanks a heap, sweetheart.  I was having a tough time finding the promise of fun amidst visions of pants-wetting and excruciating pain.

And then it was race day.  We made it to Mercer Island with plenty of time for me to hit the porta potty (twice), stretch a bit, make sure I had my bib number pinned on straight, my Shot Bloks tucked in my pocket, and my shoelaces tied tight.  My eyes actually filled with tears as Shane kissed me on the cheek and told me it was time for me to head off to the start line – you’d think I was heading into battle, the way I cried as I stroked Juliette’s hair, looked into Shane’s eyes and said a choked-up good-bye.  My nerves were on overdrive and threatening to get the best of me, so I took a few deep breaths, headed into the sea of spandex-clad runners, and said a prayer for strength and endurance as I waited for the starting horn.  Finally, after months of preparation, logging mile after mile in my trusty old Brooks, HOOOOONNNNNNK!  It was go time!

And I felt…great.  My legs were strong, my breathing was steady, I didn’t feel the urge to pee or vomit as feared.  The weather was perfect and the course was beautiful, with tree-lined switchbacks and views of the water around each bend.  I had my phone strapped to my arm and was thrilled to hear RunKeeper tell me that I was hitting each mile mark ahead of my target 9:10 pace.  Mile 2, average pace, 8:55 per mile…Mile 5, average pace, 8:56 per mile…Mile 8, average pace, 8:55 per mile.  Shane had carefully mapped out his cheering route and he and Juliette popped up at miles 3, 5, and 7 to give me high-fives.  I waved to them and yelled to Juliette that mama would see at the finish reeeeeal soon.  I was flyin’!

Then mile 10 happened.  My legs got a little rubbery and I felt myself slowing down.  I pressed on, counting my strides and telling myself that once I counted to 100 six times, I should be at the next mile marker.  I saw the sign for mile 11 and perked up a little – the end felt so close!  And yet, it was still so, so far away.  The course’s biggest hill cruelly falls at mile 11, and dang, it hurt.  It was like I was running in ten inches of mud.  My legs screamed at me and threatened to unattach themselves from my body.  “What the hell, lady?  We’re not cut out for this!”  I popped my last Shot Blok, I huffed and I puffed.  Mile 12, average pace, 9:05 per mile.  I was slipping!  I started counting my strides again, struggled to find a rhythm.  At last, in the distance, I heard the cheers and cow bells of the finish line.  I saw Shane and Jules and Jack and La Verne waving from the sidelines, threw back my shoulders, turned on my turbo-boosters, and finished with all I had.

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Thanks, Jack, for the action shots!

I took a minute to catch my breath and wolf down an orange and then made my way to my peeps, posing for a runner’s pic with Jack, who had finished his 10k earlier in morning.

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And…final time?  1:59:43!  I squeaked in just under my goal and lived to tell about it, in all it’s overly-dramatic glory.

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Mucho, mucho thanks to my insanely supportive husband, who told me over and over and over that I could do this, and to my insanely heavy daughter, who made me feel like superwoman each time I managed to push her stroller up that mondo hill on our Thursday runs.  I’m so glad you made me do this.  And I’m so glad I never have to do it again.

Eighteen months!  The past few weeks have brought new words (tutt-le for turtle, elmo for TV, and an enthusiastic A-MEH! after we say our pre-dinner prayer), new favorite foods (hummus, frozen raspberries, and hamburgers), and…duh-duh-duh-duhhhh…the beginning of disciplinary time outs, usually for fits that involve hitting or hair-pulling.  That girl is a mixed bag, as always.

Add paint to that list of favorite foods!  Hmmmmmmph.  I often feel like a broken record: “Not for eating.  Not for eating, please.  NOT FOR EATING!”

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Dress-up is still a favorite pastime – she loves to accessorize.  Pants are optional.

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And, I can’t resist…the track suit that Aunt Tiff gave her for Christmas in 2013 finally fits!

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She’s taken a real interest in “helping” me out around the house, unloading the dishwasher or dusting the furniture or throwing things away in the trash can (hopefully garbage, though I’ve found a couple of rogue toys or kitchen utensils in there).  The other night I tasked her with cleaning up the food she’d thrown on the floor – she picked up all the bits of sweet potatoes and threw them away, then took the dish towel I’d handed her to wipe up the milk spatters.  This felt like real progress!  Minus the throwing-food part.

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She’s been spending lots of time with her little buddy N, particularly since she joined his class at daycare.  They’re so silly together, cracking each other up over jokes that no one else gets.  Well, usually they’re both smiling.  Have a little sympathy, Jules!

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Much better…

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N and S came over for donuts on Saturday morning, and after all the books had been read and the puzzles had been played with and the legos had been stacked, the rainy day antsies set in and our house erupted with the sound of stomping feet and squeals of laughter.

Friday mornings are still spent with my mama friends and Juliette’s best boy pals.  We hit Mount Baker Beach this past Friday – a far cry from Santa Monica, but there was still sand to sit in and digging to be done!

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G has a couple of years on these other guys but is just as great a playmate, singing “Baby Jules, Baby Jules, Baby Jules” as he shows her the big-kid ropes on the playground.

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And then, there’s Dad.  Nobody draws forth a smile like Dad.

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Speaking of whom, Dad has introduced her to the fine art of rock-throwing.  She’s a fan.

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Oh, and this past month also brought her first big boo-boo – she took a tumble at the daycare playground last week and scraped up her face.  I suppose this is the price you pay for playing so hard.  I also suppose Juliette would tell you it’s worth it.  Girl looooves to run.

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Happy 1.5 years, baby!  (For the love of God, not for eating, Juliette…)

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Saturday brought more sun and temps approaching 80 degrees, so we grabbed our beach towel and sunscreen and headed out to grab some rays.  But first, breakfast at M Street Kitchen.

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(Please, Mama, can I have pancakes and syrup, light on the pancakes, heavy on the syrup?)

We spent the rest of the morning at Annenberg Beach House, melting into our lounge chairs while Juliette ran wild in the splash park.  Dude, this girl loves water.

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I went for a run while Shane put a tuckered-out Jules down for a nap and then hydrated with a bottle of bubbly on our house’s patio.  Perfecto.

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Juliette woke up pink-cheeked and crazy-haired and came out to join me.  Those arms!  I’ve missed seeing them these past few months.

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We packed up our things and then spent an hour strolling down the 3rd Street promenade, stopping every few minutes to watch the street performers and share a fro-yo.  Since we were so close to Tongva Park, and since Juliette had such a blast there the day before, we popped over for another go at the playground.

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Soon it was beach:30, so we made our way to the sand, armed with pail and shovel, and settled in for another sunset.

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She makes me so damn happy.  I love to be able to return the favor.

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A breeze kicked up as the sun went down and Juliette wanted nothing more than to crawl into papa’s lap and snuggle.  It took about 37 laps up and down the shore, but we had finally worn this girl out!

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I sighed as we watched the sun drop behind the horizon, sad to see our final evening in Santa Monica come to a close.  Shane consoled me by volunteering to go pick up burgers and shakes from In-N-Out for dinner while I put Juliette to bed.  Yes, please!  We wolfed down our takeout and then I fell asleep on the couch at 8:00, exhausted in the most satisfying way.

We didn’t need to head to the airport until late morning on Sunday, so we swung by the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market for awhile to eat breakfast and let Jules get her pre-flight wiggles out.  She was a big fan of the folk band that was playing there, knee-slapping and hand-clapping along with the beat.

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And then, too soon, it was time to head to LAX and make the trek back to Seattle.  Juliette did alright on the flight, squirming a bit through the first half, but eventually passing out in my arms.  And then, we were home.  Home sweet home, where we don’t have to worry about getting a sunburn or dumping the sand out of our shoes (I’m doing my best to look on the bright side here).

Thanks, Santa Monica, for treating us right!  See you next winter.

March is that time of year in Seattle when I really start getting antsy, when I start itching to shed my coat and my sweater so that I can feel the sun on my shoulders.  It’s the time of year when I’d give anything to just be warm, to wear sandals rather than wool socks and boots.  I remarked last month that this winter was feeling particularly long, with all the sniffles and the stir-craziness, so Shane worked his travel-planning magic and booked us cheap flights and a sweet little cottage in Santa Monica for a long weekend.  Juliette has recently become fascinated by airplanes, pointing to the sky and exclaiming “errrrr-pay!” each time one flies overhead, so she was most certainly up for the adventure.

We set out Thursday morning and made it to the gate with plenty of time to spare – I sipped my coffee while Jules ran circles around us, stopping every couple of minutes to bang on the windows and watch the planes take off.

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We had armed ourselves with a bag full of treats and distractions for the plane ride and decided that any ground rules about screen time or snacks are just that – ground rules.  The air is an anything-goes zone, where there’s no shame in letting your toddler load up on sugar or play with your gadgets.  Juliette spent the first half of the flight munching on cookies and cheddar bunnies while pretending to chat on my phone.

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We played one round of the Peekaboo-Barn app we’d put on the iPad and then, somewhere around Oregon, she crashed, waking just as we pulled up to the gate.  Whew!

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We picked up our rental car without much fuss and made to it Santa Monica in time for a late lunch at True Foods Kitchen.  I bought these silly sunglasses on clearance last fall, and finally!  An excuse to wear them!  Too cool for school, that kid.

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We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing at the house and then headed to the nearby beach to catch the sunset.  Juliette was a little tentative when I first set her down on the sand, not sure what to make of the way her feet sunk and squished, but once I handed her a shovel and her bucket, she was content to sit and scoop away.

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And then I took her down to the water’s edge so that the waves could lap at her toes, expecting her to be a little nervous at her first encounter with the ocean.

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Nervous, schmervous!  She went nuts, squealing with joy and chasing after the waves as they receded.  Shane and I spent the next half hour running after her, trying (unsuccessfully) to direct her along the water’s edge rather than straight into it.  She face-planted a couple of times in the cold wet sand, but was up and at it again before we could even brush her off.  We’ve got a beach-baby on our hands!

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The beach in Santa Monica is amazing, nearly deserted on a Thursday night and stretching on for miles in either direction.  We stuck around long enough to wave bye-bye to the sun, and then jetted back to the house for bath and bedtime.  Juliette fell asleep about 25 seconds after I turned off her light and Shane and I enjoyed a couple of hours of quiet time, sharing a pizza and a bottle of wine before conking out ourselves.

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We were up bright and early on Friday, eager to see what else Santa Monica had up its sleeve.  We started with breakfast at Huckleberry, for mimosas and monster egg sandwiches.

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Then we drove over to Abbot Kinney to peek in the windows of the hip restaurants and trendy shops.

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Juliette didn’t want anything to do with her stroller that day, so we booked it over to Venice Beach to look for a place to let her loose.

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We found a great little playground right on the beach and she went up and down the slide a few times before settling down on the sand with a few other kids to do some more scooping.

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I jogged back to the house from Venice and met Shane and Jules there just in time to help get her down for her nap.  Once she woke, we were back out the door, in search of a late lunch.  La Verne had recommended ramen from Tsujita, where we snagged a sidewalk table and slurped our bowls of noodles and rich, flavorful broth.

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For dessert, we walked around the corner for green tea shaved ice from Blockheads.  So good.  So, so good.  My only complaint is that I couldn’t keep Juliette away from it – get your spoon away my mochi, kid!

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Bellies full, we played for awhile at Tongva Park, climbing on rocks and bumping down the roller slide.

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We weren’t far from the beach, so we headed over to stake out a perfect patch of sand near the pier to catch another sunset.  But first, more running!  This video sums it up so clearly – I look away for a mere second, and she’s gone.  Her pants were soaked faster that I could say “STOP!”.

Keeping this girl from getting swept out to sea was exhausting, but oh, her unbridled joy!  Completely worth it.

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We finally coaxed her up onto the towel to scoop, pat, dump and demolish.  Sand castles don’t stand a chance with this little one.

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One last jog, before heading out…

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This might be an appropriate time for me to apologize to Los Angeles – I’d always fiercely claimed that I am not an LA person, that the city is all sprawl and traffic and too-tan women in too-high heels, but I take it back.  That evening, as the waves murmured and the sky blazed orange and Juliette excitedly pointed to the seagulls flying overhead, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else.

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Stay tuned for days 3 and 4!

Remember this post?  Remember how January was all coughing and sore throats and runny noses?  Remember how thankful I was for the dawn of a new, healthy month?  Scratch that.  I’m afraid Chez Schnell is still sick central.  Shane has felt like he’s had his head in a fishbowl for the last four weeks, with a head cold he can’t quite shake.  I’ve had three colds myself, one case of pinkeye, and am currently ailing from a wheezy, rattling cough that makes me sound like I need to lay off the smokes.  Juliette continues to leave a lovely trail of snot in her wake, like some kind of two-legged (all be it adorable) slug.

And yesterday, just as I resolved that March would be our month to kick all these viruses to the curb, Juliette came down with a brand new fever.  We put her to bed early and then I hit the sack at 8:00, praying that the cough suppressant that the Urgent Care doctor had prescribed would allow me to get a decent night’s sleep.  I woke to the sound of Juliette wailing around 9:00, and after Shane’s unsuccessful attempt to soothe her, I got up to give it a go.  Halfway to her room, I started feeling woozy and spent the next ten minutes hunched over the toilet while my poor, feverish girl screamed from the next room.  Add stomach bug my list of woes.

On that note, I’m so glad we got 2015’s low point out of the way this early in the year!  I have to believe things will look up from here – I didn’t puke at all today, and Juliette’s fever seems to have passed, so rather than wallowing among our discarded Kleenex, I’m cautiously optimistic that we’re on the upswing.  And, I’m so thankful my mom has been here the past few days to help us through this.  Though I would have loved for her visit to have occurred under better circumstances, it was so nice to have her here to nurse us toward health with homemade bone broth and an extra hand with Jules.

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And before we hit our wall on Sunday night, we did manage a fun little outing to Seward Park to go for a stroll and throw rocks.

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I’m going to play the fool and say it again:  cheers to the dawn of a bright and shining new month.